Steve Farber is preident of Extreme Leadership, Inc., a leadership consulting company. Below are some remarks he made on the occasion of publishing his recent book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership (2004).
Ultimately, the motivator of a leader is love. It comes down to the heart. It's love of something or someone. Love of the cause, of the principle, of the idea, of the future that you're trying to create, love of the people you're serving and the people that you're working with. That's really where the energy comes from.
On the subject of love, one of the characters in the book...says the the ideal is, "Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do." That covers everything as far as I'm concerned.
The first part "do what you love", is your own connection to your work. That's where you get your energy. How can you expect your customers to love doing business with you if you don't love your business yourself? People have a pretty sophisticated bullshit meter and they know when you're faking it. I'm not talking about the metaphysical "do what you love and the money will follow" hoo-ha stuff. If you're in love with your work you're going to bring more energy and imagination and creativity to it. And you're going to have the juice to work through the obstacles. But it's not doing what you love just because. The ethical context or moral context, or whatever you want to call it, is "in the service of the people."
Leaders should see themselves as being in the service of the people that they're leading. You're creating the best possible environment for them to do the best possible work. And it's also in the service of the people that you're selling to, essentially, and those people should "love what you do." That doesn't mean go out and only do business with the people who already love you. It should be at the core of everything that you're trying to create.
When you walk into the reception area of a company you've never visited before, you can tell within 30 seconds whether or not the place is exciting and cool, whether they're doing interesting work, or whether it's a morgue.
As an Extreme Leader, it's your job to generate energy in the environment and in the people around you.
There are people that get very energetic about - from the outside looking in - seemingly mundane things. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal a number of years ago about how Gillette has managed to create an environment that's entirely energetic about razor blades. They are completely stoked about...shaving!
To hear people talk about the product of developing great shaving technology and how they get so excited about it is really inspiring.
"Extreme Leadership" is a redundant phase, because if somebody's really leading, what they're doing is already extreme. Leadership is the act of transformation. Taking nothing and turning it into something.
My favorite quote: "Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do." Truer words have never been spoken. There are so many leaders out there working for other leaders that don't love what they do. Time to move on, if that's the case. Underappreciation is the #1 reason for leaders to move on. Not salary. Not title. Not bonus. Underappreciation.